FCE LTER Journal Articles


Allocation of Biomass and Net Primary Productivity of Mangrove Forests along Environmental Gradients in the Florida Coastal Everglades, USA


Vegetation patterns of mangroves in the Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE) result from the interaction of environmental gradients and natural disturbances (i.e., hurricanes), creating an array of distinct riverine and scrub mangroves across the landscape. We investigated how landscape patterns of biomass and total net primary productivity (NPPT), including allocation in above- and below-ground mangrove components, vary inter-annually (2001–2004) across gradients in soil properties and hydroperiod in two distinct FCE basins: Shark River Estuary and Taylor River Slough. We propose that the allocation of belowground biomass and productivity (NPPB) relative to aboveground allocation is greater in regions with P limitation and permanent flooding. Porewater sulfide was significantly higher in Taylor River (1.2 ± 0.3 mM) compared to Shark River (0.1 ± 0.03 mM) indicating the lack of a tidal signature and more permanent flooding in this basin. There was a decrease in soil P density and corresponding increase in soil N:P from the mouth (28) to upstream locations (46–105) in Shark River that was consistent with previous results in this region. Taylor River sites showed the highest P limitation (soil N:P > 60). Average NPPT was double in higher P environments (17.0 ± 1.1 Mg ha−1 yr−1) compared to lower P regions (8.3 ± 0.3 Mg ha−1 yr−1). Root biomass to aboveground wood biomass (BGB:AWB) ratio was 17 times higher in P-limited environments demonstrating the allocation strategies of mangroves under resource limitation. Riverine mangroves allocated most of the NPPT to aboveground (69%) while scrub mangroves showed the highest allocation to belowground (58%). The total production to biomass (P:B) ratios were lower in Shark River sites (0.11 yr−1); whereas in Taylor River sites P:B ratios were higher and more variable (0.13–0.24 yr−1). Our results suggest that the interaction of lower P availability in Taylor River relative to Shark River basin, along with higher sulfide and permanent flooding account for higher allocation of belowground biomass and production, at expenses of aboveground growth and wood biomass. These distinct patterns of carbon partitioning between riverine and scrub mangroves in response to environmental stress support our hypothesis that belowground allocation is a significant contribution to soil carbon storage in forested wetlands across FCE, particularly in P-limited scrub mangroves. Elucidating these biomass strategies will improve analysis of carbon budgets (storage and production) in neotropical mangroves and understanding what conditions lead to net carbon sinks in the tropical coastal zone.


The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2013.07.011

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DBI-0620409 and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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